Chocs away, Tally ho, let’s get the show on the road, ermm wind in the air maybe. Crimson Skies is a game quite original to the world of Xbox, and should not be confused with Crimson Sea, which is a complete different game and genre.
We’ve all played this type of game though, you have a vehicle, plane in this case, and you have a mission, collect this, kill these, protect this and protect that. To put it short, there are 10 Planes up for grabs (11 if you have X-box live), and you scale many levels attempting the various ‘missions’
You start your single player in an alternate 1930’s where planes and blimps have replaced cars and trains. You star as Nathan Zachary a sky pirate (a good one); you’ve just lost a poker game, and your plane as a result of that. You ditch the broad in your bed and steal your plane back; problem is you also gambled your HQ Blimp too. The first level sees you following the helpful yellow target, and shooting down stationary objects, it’s then you realise this game is very easy to get to grips with. You steer with ya left stick, spin with your right one, and a combination of both gives you a few barrel rolls, and dodging turn around. You have a turbo button for that bit of extra speed, a brake for tight manoeuvres, right trigger for your regular guns, and left trigger for your secondary weapon, and that’s it almost, no under-carriage button, no difficulty landings, no need to worry on your speed or altitude, you just dive right in there!
Each plane has its own secondary weapon, be it magnetic missiles, lightning gun, triple missiles or an extra fast gating gun style plane wrecker. Further more, each plane has it’s own stats as you’d expect, all scale from the slow and study, ‘tank like’ Doppelgänger, to the fast and nippy Desert Fox and even a single man helicopter, All are on offer on Xbox Live straight away, but you have to earn them, and sometimes find then hidden away in the single player mode. As said earlier, there is a plane called ‘Fury’ available for Content Download.
There are many levels from the peaceful Sea Haven with its pleasant island appearance with the sea lapping below you as you send an enemy towards it, through to the rocky chasm that is Axio, to the dark and dingy Chicago city skyscrapers. The visual effects be that smoke, water splashing around, explosions are not going to win any awards but look great considering all the action taking place around you. All the planes again look great and have a modern-retro feel to some of them with the propeller at the rear.
The single player missions are straight forward in thought, but successful completion will depend on your how much you’ve practiced, and choice of plane you will gain money and tokens for plane upgrades, also you might be able to find some side missions, like a race around the level too. Examples of the main missions are you have to protect a town/train/blimp from an attack of air pirates. You fly around the level shooting down the scum bags, with each destruction you get a health pack and secondary ammo supply drop out to be picked up. Also you have the option in landing in a gun turret, and shooting them with your endless supply of machine gun fire, and missiles, and with a quick press of X you hop back in your plane. Your enemies range from planes, helicopters, ground turrets, even blips and every so often a huge ‘boss’, the first of which is a huge spider as it climbs across the level attempting to crush your base, this makes a change from all the flips, dodging missiles fire etc, to destroy a weak spot should you find it. Although nothing is more fun than… well multi player actually
Multiplayer makes this the great game it is, even 2-4 player split screen its a riot, but online you’ll be in heaven. You can have up to 16 players with one or two players per x-box, you and a guest. You have the selection of all the planes from the start, and 5 levels to choose from (another one is now available for content download) the multi player stages are basically water downed versions of the main levels with 2 turrets per level, hidden health packs, and a spare plane too. There are 6 multi player modes, the usual death match and team death match, where you split into red and blue teams and first to a chosen amount of kills wins. The other modes are similar to capture the flag and wild chicken (with a real chicken) where you have to get something back to your base before the other team beats you to it. Keep Away (teams or not) is simple to understand, there is a coin in the centre of the level and you have to hold onto it as long as possible and when your shot down your killer holds it, first one to 3 minutes say, wins! These modes, are simple to understand like the single player game put with 4, 6, maybe even 10 other planes trying for the same goal, the game can get a bit hectic, I personally prefer two teams of 3 or 4 in a team death match situation, shooting each other, missiles toe to toe and dog fight after dog fight, this is what this game was meant to be played.
This is one of those games you literally can pick up and play and have fun all the time, if you have played Midtown Madness 3 or Mech Assault, you’ll know what sort of fun to expect.